Vantage Description

(latterly known as the V8 Vantage)

Unveiled: October 1992

In production: December 1993 - October 1999

Chassis numbers: 70001 - 70239 excluding 70051, 70053, 70088, 70092, 70105, 70145 and 70229

On introduction, at the 1992 British International Motor Show, such was the transformation of the Vantage that it only bore a passing resemblance to the Virage. The only panels that were shared with the standard car were the door skins and roof panel. The styling of the Vantage had been comprehensively updated by John Heffernan, who had previously designed the Virage, to create a far more aggressive motor car. The frontal aspect had obvious differences; two groups of three Cibie headlamps, each group behind a single, heated lens, while the grille was matt black egg-box design. The deep air-dam had a large centre opening for the radiator flanked by two further openings for brake cooling. The front-hinged bonnet on the Virage coupe extended right to the leading edge whereas the Vantage bonnet dropped into a specific aperture. Two vents were also set into the bonnet above the superchargers to assist with cooling as were a pair of traditional AM wing vents. The larger wheel and tyres necessitated wider wheel arches that added 100 mm to the width of the car.

Initially it is believed that AML wanted to use the round rear lights from the Chevrolet Corvette but General Motors refused to supply them. Thus AML had no option but invest in designing and tooling for their own bespoke units at considerable cost.

The suspension systems were similar to those found on the Virage, but the rear de Dion beam was now the more traditional steel tube which was located by two pairs of parallel, fore and aft, links, rather than the less than satisfactory 'A' frame of the Virage, and transversely, by a Watts link. Ventilated 14 inch (362 mm) brake discs at the front and 11½ inch (290 mm) at the back, arrested the rotation of those massive 18 inch x 10 inch wheels with their Goodyear 285/45 ZR tyres.

The interior of the 2+2 Vantage was a significant advance on the Virage. The troublesome VIC computer system was deleted from the revised centre console which received more analogue dials, a row of warning lights and larger air vents. The single instrument binnacle of the Virage was replaced with individual analogue dials with a walnut veneer facing. Most prominent was the fitting of a driver air bag equipped steering wheel (borrowed from the Lincoln Town Car) which would have allowed the Vantage to be sold in North America if only it could pass the draconian emission regulations. The new steering wheel was fitted to a new column with a single stalk which controlled indicators, wipers and the headlamp main beam. To complete the interior were a pair of electrically adjustable and heated Recaro seats. As with the Virage, there was a pair of sculpted rear seats only really suitable for children or small adults.

AML claimed that the Vantage was capable of reaching the target of 186 mph and it is believed that the car could well exceed this figure.

Total production of the supercharged Vantage coupe, excluding the coach built Works Service Derivatives and Le Mans cars, reached 233 examples. Of these, 136 were built RHD and sold in the UK, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong and Brunei. The remaining 97 LHD cars were sold in mainland Europe, the Middle East, Japan and South Africa. The Vantage was not homologated for sale in North America although it can now be imported on the restrictive "Show & Display" status.

Two colours dominate the palette of the Vantage. The 1992 launch car was painted in what appeared to be AM Racing Green, and 95 other examples were painted in various shades of green too. The second most popular colour was blue, with 72 cars.

Vantage Updates

Aston Martin had a group of customers keen to order a Vantage variant of the Virage. They paid deposits and patiently waited over two years for the car to arrive. AML had not decided to put the Vantage into series production so the first batch of seven cars was hand built in the engineering department. The design was modified using a specially adapted Virage chassis as no production tooling was available. Lightweight alloy doors and bespoke bodywork designed by John Heffernan created a powerful shape that redefined the Virage. Suspension components differed from the later production cars and a torque tube mounted between the engine and differential allowed the copious amounts of power to be delivered without drama. Overall these first Vantages were lighter and rawer in their performance. Once more orders had been received, expensive tooling was put down to enable further cars to be built more quickly and less expensively.

From chassis 70091 (RHD) and 70064 (LHD) the top of the centre console, which had until that point only housed three instrument dials, a voltmeter, fuel gauge and oil temperature gauge, had the addition of an analogue clock.

From chassis 70112, the square Cibie headlights became unavailable and these were replaced by round projector style lights.

From 70171 the Citroen CX door mirrors were replaced by new units from the Jaguar XK8. Also the engine designation received a /R to signify a revised engine management system to limit emissions further.

From chassis 70173, the exhaust was changed to a type with a new larger capacity transverse rear silencer. In order to clear the new silencer, these later cars had a shallower boot well. As a result, power was down from 550 bhp to 546 bhp.

Chassis number 70194 and from 70198 onwards had revised door handles and locks sourced from the Ford Mondeo.

Vantage Variants

Works Prepared Aston Martin Driving Dynamics V600 Vantage (the “V600 conversion”)

In 1998, at the British Motor Show in the NEC, near Birmingham, the V600 version of the Vantage was shown on the AML stand. The car was full of extremes as it offered a genuine top speed of 200 mph, power output of 600 bhp at 6500 rpm and a price tag of a whopping £233,682. But all of this was eclipsed by its full name which was the ‘Works Prepared Aston Martin Driving Dynamics V600 Vantage’. Strictly speaking, this wasn’t a discrete model as such but a collection of modifications developed and fitted by Works Service for the Vantage model post registration.

Central to the V600 was the most powerful AM road car engine ever until it was eclipsed by the One-77 in 2009. This final, ultimate version of the Tadek Marek V8, featured performance engineering of the charge air intake cooling system, increased boost pressure and a big bore sports exhaust, described by AML as 'Super Sport'.

As well as an uprated engine, other modifications on the show car included ultra-lightweight hollow spoke magnesium Dymag wheels, giant brake discs with circumferential cooling grooves plus AP racing callipers, Stack digital instruments and reworked suspension with Eibach springs, adjustable Koni shock absorbers and a stiffer anti-roll bar. The car also had a five-speed close ratio manual transmission although it was, in practice, the six-speed with the top ratio blocked off.

To be classed as fully to V600 specification, a Vantage should have received upgrades to the engine, suspension, braking, wheels and gearbox. It is possible to have all or some of the modifications without the engine upgrade but not possible to have a V600 engine without suspension and braking changes for obvious reasons!

Automatic gearbox conversion

It should be mentioned that a number of cars have had their manual gearboxes replaced with Chrysler TorqueFlite automatic transmissions, the work being carried out by Works Service. Six are known to have had three-speed units while 18, perhaps 20, have had the later four-speed version as used in the mid to late 1990s V8 Coupe and LWB Volante. At the same time as conversion to automatics, some of these cars have also had the V600 engine conversion too.

During 2012, Aston Martin Works began testing a new six-speed automatic gearbox with paddleshift which will be suitable for both 550 and V600 versions of the supercharged Vantage.

Roos shooting brake, 2001

In 2001 Roos Engineering completed the conversion of chassis 70165 to shooting brake. This car had previously undergone the V600 conversion at Works Service.

Vantage Specification

Body / Coachwork
Two-door 2+2 coupe
Steel platform chassis with handcrafted aluminium alloy body panels
Side-impact protection in doors
Front airdam, bumpers and side sills in GRP
Full Connolly leather interior
Burr walnut veneer set to facia, console and door trims. Optional elm and maple veneers
Alcantara headlining, leather trimmed Wilton carpets, lambswool floor rugs at additional cost
Electrically operated and heated front Recaro seats
CFC-free automatic climate control system with replaceable pollen filters
Leather steering wheel with driver airbag
Sony radio cassette four speaker audio system with CD option
Optional boot mounted six disc Alpine CD autochanger
Remote alarm system and engine immobiliser
Electrically operated rear view door mirrors
Heated front and rear screens
Front-mounted all-alloy 90° V8, 5,340 cc; four valves per cylinder, twin overhead camshafts per bank. Engine number prefix 590/. Later engines 590/R/
Twin Eaton (Roots type) M90 supercharger units with air to liquid intercoolers driven by poly V belts. Max boost 10 psi
Bore 100 mm. Stroke 85 mm. Compression ratio 8.2:1
Sequential Bosch injection system and distributor-less ignition system controlled by a Ford EEC IV engine management unit. Exhaust emissions controlled by two, three-way, catalysts with Lambda sensors
Maximum power: 550 bhp @ 6,500 rpm
Maximum torque: 550 lb.ft @ 4,000 rpm
Six-speed all synchromesh ZF manual gearbox
Final drive: Salisbury hypoid bevel with Powr-Lok limited slip differential
Final drive ratio: 3.77:1
Power-assisted rack and pinion, 2.84 turns lock to lock. Turning circle between curbs of about 10.5 metres
Column tilt adjustment
Wheels and Tyres
OZ six-spoke one-piece cast aluminium alloy, 10J x 18" wheels
Goodyear Eagle GS-D 285/45 ZR18 tyres
No spare wheel fitted but tyre inflation aerosols supplied
Front: wishbone type independent suspension incorporating an anti-roll bar, linear helical coil springs and monotube damper units
Rear: steel tube de Dion unit located fore and aft by parallel radius arms and transversely by Watts linkage with damper units, linear helical springs and anti roll-bar
Front: ventilated steel discs, 362 mm diameter with AP Racing four pot aluminium calipers
Rear: outboard ventilated steel discs, 285 mm diameter with sliding aluminium calipers
Vacuum servo-assisted tandem master cylinder with Bosch four channel anti-lock braking system
Length: 4,745 mm
Width: 1,944 mm
Height: 1,320 mm
Kerb weight: 1,990 kg
Wheelbase: 2,611 mm
Front track: 1,548 mm
Rear track: 1,586 mm
Cd: 0.34
Boot volume: 320 litres
Fuel tank capacity: 105 litres
Maximum speed: over 186 mph
Acceleration: 0-60 mph 4.6 seconds
Acceleration: 0-100 mph 10.1 seconds
1994: £177,600
Sept 1997: £189,950

Vantage Specification V600

Additional large capacity intercooler radiators and pumps
Maximum power: 600 bhp @ 6,500 rpm
Maximum torque: 600 lb.ft @ 4,000 rpm
'Big Bore' sports exhaust system
Manual: five-speed all synchromesh ZF gearbox conversion with short shift selection
Automatic: Chrysler TorqueFlite 4 speed automatic with optional overdrive switch in the gear knob
Final drive: Salisbury hypoid bevel with Powr-Lok limited slip differential
Final drive ratio: 3.31:1 (manual) or 3.058:1 (automatic)
Wheels and Tyres
Dymag five-spoke magnesium alloy hollow spoke ultra lightweight, 10J x 18" wheels
Goodyear Eagle GS-D 285/45 ZR18 tyres
Front: wishbone type independent suspension incorporating an anti-roll bar, Eibach coil springs and Koni adjustable sports damper units
Rear: steel tube de Dion unit located fore and aft by parallel radius arms and transversely by Watts linkage with Eibach coil springs and Koni adjustable sports damper units anti roll-bar
Front: circumferential grooved ventilated steel discs. 362 mm diameter with AP Racing six piston aluminium calipers
Rear: outboard circumferential grooved ventilated steel discs. 310 mm diameter with AP Racing four piston aluminium calipers. Independent handbrake calipers
Servo assisted tandem master cylinder with Bosch four channel anti-lock braking system
Maximum speed: over 186 mph
Acceleration: 0-60 mph 3.9 seconds
1998: car plus full conversion quoted at £233,682 (approx. £43,000 supplement over the standard car)

Vantage Number Guide

Cars were built with sequential numbers from 70001 to 700240 although some numbers were used on derivatives such as the first Le Mans and six, four-door, Special Series Vantages. Model years stretch from 1994 through to 1999 (R to X in the VIN number). The engine numbers are matched to the chassis numbers with a 590/ (or later 590/R/) prefix, representing 5 litre and the year 1990 when work began on engine development. The engine suffix during manufacture was always M for manual transmission although modified cars may now display a /A suffix.

When consulting either factory or UK DVLA records, cars to 70090 are described as ‘Virage Vantage’ although the factory never marketed the cars as such. From chassis 70091 onwards, cars are on factory records described as Vantage and from 1999MY as V8 Vantage. Sometimes the car is described as V8 Vantage V550 as a way of distinguishing it from the earlier AM V8 Vantage or the later Gaydon built V8 Vantage.

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